What is the legal drinking age?
The legal drinking age in Missouri is 21. It is against state law to consume, purchase, or possess alcohol if you are younger than 21.
What will happen if I am caught drinking as a minor?
Illegal consumption, possession, or distribution of alcohol by a minor is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you may be fined up to $1000 and/or imprisoned for up to one year. In addition to fines, you will need to pay court costs and attorney fees.
If I am under 21, can I get in trouble for being drunk in public?
Yes: a new law in Missouri and a new ordinance in Warrensburg states that if the police have reason to suspect that you have been drinking and you are under 21, they can charge you with "minor in possession by consumption." This means that even if you are not holding the alcohol container, but have consumed alcohol, you can be charged with an MIP (Minor in Possesion).
What about drinking and driving?
Anyone who drives while intoxicated can be charged with a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). Under the "Zero Tolerance Law", anyone younger than 21 with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or greater could lose their license. With a BAC of .08 or more (at any age), the arresting officer will take your license on the spot, often resulting in restrictions of driving privileges.
The vast majority of people charged with driving under the influence are convicted and face thousands of dollars in fines, increased insurance premiums, attorney fees, and criminal records. If an accident is involved, civil litigation against the driver is also common. Depending on the offense and campus policy, the student may face university sanctions.
Be smart. If you drink, use a designated driver, the Night Ryder bus, or take a cab. Keep in mind that a designated driver is a person who has had no alcohol to drink.
What is Keg Registration?
When a keg is confiscated by police at a party at which underage persons have consumed alcohol, the purchaser of the keg can be identified and arrested or fined for supplying alcohol to underage persons. Penalties include a fine of up to $1000 and/or a maximum of one year in prison.
If a keg is returned to the place of purchase with a missing or defaced ID tag, the deposit is forfeited. In addition, it is illegal to sell alcohol without a license and penalties include up to a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.
Is it a big deal to have a misdemeanor on my record?
A misdemeanor can be on your record for life if you are convicted or plead guilty. You could be responsible for revealing this information on any job application and applications for many advanced degree programs (such as medical school and law school). Yes, it is a big deal.
How can my driver's license be suspended or revoked due to drinking?
What is known as the "Abuse and Lose" law and the "Zero Tolerance" law can affect your license. Abuse and Lose results in suspension or revocation of a driver's license when a person under 21 years of age is guilty of any alcohol-related traffic offense (possession, consumption, or use of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle), possession or use of any controlled substance, or the modification or misrepresentation of a driver's license. Zero Tolerance means that if you are found to have more than .02 BAC then you are guilty of a misdemeanor and shall have your driver's license suspended or revoked.
What about off-campus parties?
If you host an off-campus party with alcohol and charge admission, the person accepting the money could be charged with selling alcohol without a license. Sentences for this violation involve up to two years in prison and/or fines of up to $1000. If alcohol is served to a minor, the person could also be charged with supplying alcohol to a minor and child welfare endangerment.
Police respond to off-campus parties when there are noise complaints or parking problems. Undercover officers also routinely check private parties for compliance. ID's are checked if police have reason to suspect that minors have been drinking. You risk your arrest as well as the party host's arrest if you drink at a private party as a minor.
What are the new laws about house parties?
Any owner, occupant or other person with a lawful right to the use and enjoyment of any property who knowingly allows any person under 21 to consume alcohol on their property or who knowingly fails to stop a minor from drinking on their property shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.